Friedrich Nietzsche’s 1882 New Year’s Resolution

Nietzsche’s entire life’s work could be described as something of a resolution for himself and others to become something more and better than what we are. In January of 1882, while write The Gay Science, Nietzsche specifically wrote out a prescription for his thinking for the coming year. I think it’s a pretty damn good one.

“For the New Year—I still live, I still think; I must still live, for I must still think. Sum, ergo cogito: cogito, ergo sum. To-day everyone takes the liberty of expressing his wish and his favorite thought: well, I also mean to tell what I have wished for myself today, and what thought first crossed my mind this year,—a thought which ought to be the basis, the pledge and the sweetening of all my future life! I want more and more to perceive the necessary characters in things as the beautiful:—I shall thus be one of those who beautify things. Amor fati: let that henceforth be my love! I do not want to wage war with the ugly. I do not want to accuse, I do not want even to accuse the accusers. Looking aside, let that be my sole negation! And all in all, to sum up: I wish to be at any time hereafter only a yea-sayer!”

“I do not want to wage war with the ugly.”

That’s not always easy. There’s a lot of ugly in the world and it’s all around us, and sometimes it certainly does seem good and necessary to wage war against it. But perhaps what Nietzsche is really getting at is similar to what he wrote in Beyond Good and Evil, aphorism 146 to be exact.

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the negative feelings that come from engaging with the negative aspects of the world. Perhaps a better approach is to focus on the positive aspect of our struggles since those struggles certainly can not be simply discarded. There’s a revolutionary power in changing the framework of one’s thinking. I tink Nietzsche was on to something here.

What do you think?

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Rob Cotton

Nomadic scribe. Anarcho-phenomenologist.

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